Trump’s first statement on cannabis. Trump’s first mention of cannabis as president came in the form of a signing statement about the spending bill on Friday. He argued that “he isn’t legally bound by a series of limits lawmakers imposed on him.” The limits include a ban on interfering with state medical marijuana laws and requirements for notifying Congress before taking certain military actions. Bloomberg “It’s basically saying they reserve the right to do whatever they want and enforce prohibition regardless of the statutory prohibition on doing so,” said one advocate. “The uncertainty is deeply disconcerting for patients and providers, and we urge the Administration to clarify their intentions immediately,” said another. Business Insider House rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), who co-sponsored the medical marijuana amendment in question, said, “It is nebulous, but nebulous doesn’t mean we’ve lost… We have other forces at play — legal forces.” Rohrabacher said he made plans with attorney general Jeff Sessions to talk about cannabis. The Orange County Register
Plan to axe the ONDCP. A proposed 95 percent cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy has staffers and advocates worried. Staffers say “they’ve been told that they may lose their jobs and that the proposal is essentially awaiting Trump’s review.” Given the new White House commission on opioids, the office would be redundant, explained an administration official. Politico White House chief of staff Reince Priebus emphasized that the report is based on “a leaked document, nothing is finalized… There’s work being done at HHS and DOJ.” Fox News More power to the HHS and DOJ could be bad news for reformers. Sessions has maintained a hardline stance against cannabis policy reform, and HHS secretary Tom Price was “one of the most consistently anti-marijuana members of Congress.”
A daily dose of THC could help aging brains. A new study on mice found that regular, low doses of THC boosted the cognitive performance of older mice. Interestingly, the same regimen had the opposite effect in younger mice, impairing memory and learning. “These results reveal a profound, long-lasting improvement of cognitive performance resulting from a low dose of THC treatment in mature and old animals,” researchers wrote. Now they’re planning a clinical trial to see if the same effects can be seen in humans. The Guardian Related: The Canadian military will conduct a clinical trial on medical marijuana for PTSD. CBC News
Why it’s so hard to quit the war on drugs. Forty-five years and $1 trillion later, it is proving difficult to change course on prohibition. The Obama administration tried to do so by scaling back drug sentences and focusing on treatment. “The changes to the War on Drugs under Obama are historic, and many appear irreversible, but the hardline ideology of the Drug War is not everywhere in retreat. In many states, the conflict is being waged as though Nixon were still in power.” Rolling Stone
DEA agents behaving badly. DEA agent Scott Nickerson has been under investigation for 10 months, according to the agency. After his Brazilian girlfriend Larissa Carvalho ended the affair, Nickerson has stalked and harassed her to this day. Some of his misconduct includes: sending her secret operational details, stalking, and threatening Carvalho. The Office of the Inspector General has warned at least five times in 15 years that the DEA’s disciplinary system lets agents get away with misconduct. “I can do whatever I want and no one will care about you,” Nickerson wrote to Carvalho. BuzzFeed News
Trump’s plan to stop drugs at the border could make things worse. President Trump wants to hire thousands of new Customs and Border Protection agents. But the CBP has the worst corruption rate out of any other federal law enforcement agency. “Last year, a Department of Homeland Security report found that corrupt border agents are such an urgent problem, they ‘pose a national security threat.'” But the agency may relax its hiring standards to staff up according to Trump’s wishes. Much of the agency’s corruption problems can be traced to lax hiring standards that allowed cartels to infiltrate the agency. “Corrupt officials have given sensitive information to cartels, and waved tons of drugs and thousands of undocumented immigrants through the border in exchange for millions of dollars in bribes.” The Atlantic Related: A drug smuggler says Trump’s wall won’t stop the flow of drugs or undocumented immigrants: “There will be more tunnels. More holes. If it doesn’t go over, it will go under.” In fact, it will make the trade even more lucrative — “strengthening defenses does not stop smuggling. It only makes it more expensive, which inadvertently gives more money to criminal networks.” The New York Times
Legal weed does not seem to attract homelessness. Despite anecdotal accounts to the contrary, a researcher on homelessness and public policy disputes the claim that cannabis legalization could contribute to a rise in the homeless population. While there’s anecdotal evidence of an increase in people seeking services because of legalization, “the best data we have… suggest there has not been a substantial increase in the people coming from out of state.” He also criticized the Colorado governor for drawing a connection between marijuana legalization and homelessness: “The misperception tends to reinforce negative stereotypes.” Denverite
Cannabis research instituted coming to Cali. UC Irvine is developing an interdisciplinary marijuana research institute and hopes to have it up and running within a year. The schools of medicine and law are leading its creation, with business, engineering, and communications all interested to join. “The idea is to study how cannabis intersects with every facet of life, from the environment to criminal justice to culture.” The Orange County Register
Word on the States
- In California, the state released draft rules for cannabis lab testing.
- In Vermont, lawmakers extend the legislative session, keeping legislation to legalize marijuana alive.
- In Maine, a look at the lobbyists trying to influence marijuana laws.
- In Nevada, lawmakers advanced a measure to eliminate urine tests for impaired driving.
- In Florida, the Legislature fails to pass medical marijuana regulations.
- In Oregon, marijuana tax revenue still hasn’t been distributed.
- In Louisiana, a chief justice blasted her colleagues for 18-year sentence for marijuana.
- In New Jersey, medical marijuana patients are pushing Seaside Heights to let them smoke on the boardwalk.
- In Michigan, advocates launched a 2018 ballot drive to legalize recreational marijuana.
- In Maryland, the medical marijuana panel hasn’t paid its bill for processing applications.
- In New York, the state releases a partial list of medical marijuana doctors.
- In Texas, a House committee approved a medical marijuana bill.
Word for Word
“[David] Bienenstock came to town from Los Angeles last month, to guest-curate an exhibit, at apexart, in Tribeca, called “Outlaw Glass”—a showcase of glass pipes and bongs, handmade by master lampworkers for the purpose of smoking marijuana in various forms. Technically, this is known as artistic hard glass. There were four large vitrines, each about the size of a coffin and populated by an array of flamboyant, filigreed apparatuses, lurid plumbing in many colors and forms—dragons, skulls, krakens—which one might find either fetching or hideous, depending upon one’s taste for velvet heavy-metal posters and airbrushed landscapes on vans. No question, the craftsmanship was humbling. Delicate leaves and lace, tubes within tubes, ghouls embedded inside chambers like ships in bottles.” – Nick Paumgarten for The New Yorker
“After years of work in the lab, studying how drug users think, being honest about his own relationship with drugs is [Dr. Carl Hart’s] next act. It’s another way to prove the point he’s been trying to make for years: that the stereotypes many people have about drug use and drug users are not accurate… ‘It’s trying to get people to understand that you can do these things and be responsible, and pay taxes, and take care of your family, and be successful,’ Hart said.” – Mary Harris for WNYC